Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 734-736. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
Blacklisted in the 50s for past Communist affiliation.
Directed 13 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Melvyn Douglas, Paul Newman, Patricia Neal, Richard Burton, James Earl Jones, Jane Alexander, Paul Winfield, Cicely Tyson, Geraldine Page, Sally Field, Rip Torn, Alfre Woodard and James Garner. Neal, Douglas and Field won Oscars for their performances in one of Ritt's movies.
Ritt began as an apprentice actor in the last years of the celebrated Group Theater (1931-1940), the first company in American to put Stanislavski's techniques into practice. He appeared as "Sam" and was the assistant stage manager in the 1939 debut of Clifford Odets "Golden Boy" with Julie ("John") Garfield and two other fledgling actors who would also go on to direct films - Elia Kazan and Michael Gordon ("Pillow Talk"'). He also acted in one the last Group productions - Irwin Shaw's "The Gentle People" with another novice actor, new to Broadway, Karl Malden who appeared in a small role. In 1987 Ritt directed Malden in the film "Nuts" with Barbra Streisand.